The Life and Times of $crooge McDuck, Volume 2, by Don Rosa – You may remember I read the first volume almost two years ago, but the collection is out of print and the library didn’t have the second. Now I’ve moved to an area where the library system has both volumes, so I’ve finished the whole thing. This one takes us from Scrooge’s visit to Australia in 1896, then through his first major gold strike in the Klondike, his building up of Duckburg and subsequent retirement from private life, and finally his auspicious meeting with his nephews in 1947. Rosa makes references to Carl Barks stories throughout, and while they sometimes threaten to overwhelm the plot, the work remains funny and entertaining throughout. While ignoring some of Barks’s earlier uses of Scrooge before he’d been fully fleshed out, Rosa did manage to work in the information revealed in “Voodoo Hoodoo,” in which an African witch doctor sends a zombie after the wealthy duck when he steals some land. Rosa usually went along with the later characterization of Scrooge being cheap and tricky but never outright dishonest, so he made this land theft the low point of the billionaire’s life. It leads to a rather amusing series of panels where Scrooge approaches Robert Peary about buying the North Pole, only to find that the zombie is part of Peary’s expedition. The tycoon is then in such a hurry to get to Russia that he actually reaches the Pole before Peary, but no one ever finds out about it. Adding to the humor is a bit showing the relevant map with a courier in the corner complaining about how Scrooge stiffed him on a tip.
Rosa is also quite insistent that Scrooge’s first dime is an inspiration, NOT a lucky charm, a point he has a few different characters drive home. The final chapter is made to tie in with “Christmas on Bear Mountain,” Barks’s introduction of Scrooge, and has Huey, Dewey, and Louie use reverse psychology to talk their great-uncle into a return to public life and adventuring. He mentions at one point that he plans to sell his mansion, which makes me think of something I’ve often considered about how Scrooge is always presented as such a cheapskate as to totally out of his way to save a nickel, yet is sometimes shown as living in a fancy house and riding in a limousine. While he lives in a mansion in the Barks Christmas story and it’s a regular part of DuckTales, it’s more common to see him simply living in the building with the money bin.
Uncle Scrooge: The Seven Cities of Gold, by Carl Barks – The library also had this volume, reprinting Scrooge stories originally published between 1954 and 1956. The featured story, “The Seven Cities of Cibola,” was the first portrayal of Scrooge as a world-traveling adventurer, and apparently a heavy influence on Indiana Jones. One particular sequence that’s echoed in Raiders of the Lost Ark occurs when the Beagle Boys grab a booby-trapped idol, causing the cities to become completely buried in rubble. The tale combines two myths regarding the Spanish conquest in America, the Seven Cities of Gold and the Lost Ship of the Desert. In other stories, Scrooge and Donald Duck encounter a ray that turns people to stone, seek the Philosopher’s Stone, complete a race that Scrooge’s uncle had started many years previously, and find the Golden Fleece in Colchis. A weird note about the Golden Fleece story is that Barks’s editors originally rejected it because “Harpies” was an obscure word for prostitutes, so he called them “Larkies” instead. There was a DuckTales episode with a lot of the same plot elements, but many of the details changed. It’s interesting that several of the stories here show Scrooge either outright failing or not being happy with his success. The Cities of Gold are buried and the ducks forget about their existence, the mansion Scrooge wins in the steamboat race is too dilapidated to live in (and his allergies don’t help matters either), prolonged contact with the Philosopher’s Stone proves to be too dangerous, and the coat he has made from the fleece is too cold.
“Riches, Riches, Everywhere!”, on the other hand, shows Scrooge as TOO successful at treasure hunting, in that he keeps digging up mineral wealth when all he really wants is water. I also have to wonder what happened to the kangaroos that were exposed to so much uranium.
Speaking of Scrooge, I’ve also heard that DuckTales is coming back to television, so that’s pretty cool. I wonder how different it will be from the original series, and whether it will hew any closer to the Barks stories.